Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Future of NSW Gov draft Private Land Conservation Strategy - not guaranteed

The NSW Government's Draft Biodiversity Conservation Investment Strategy 2017-2037 proposes public investment in private land conservation. The Strategy faces a politically uncertain future as it is underpinned by a government’s investment promise of $240 million funding over five years, with $70 million in ongoing annual funding subject to performance reviews.

The Colong Foundation identified the following issues with the Strategy:

  • With no clear monitoring, evaluation and compliance program its wide-ranging social, economic and environmental purposes could result in wide-spread rorting, for example, it could be used to prop up rural electorates;
  • Private conservation will grow at the expense of National Parks as acquisition funding is just $5 million/year (a measly 1/48th the funding for private land conservation);
  • Fragmented bushland where social and economic outcomes can be achieved may be protected, at the expense of ensuring genuine additional conservation outcomes on private land elsewhere;
  • The absence of an ‘additionality’ provision, that requires protection of the land beyond current conservation measures, increases the potential for rorting under the Strategy;
  • With no public register of private land conservation schemes, land parcels will be protected multiple times under different market mechanisms, creating more opportunities for rorting the Strategy;
  • Land with urban or coal mining potential are to be avoided by the Strategy, precisely the regions where high conservation value land is most at risk;
  • It will most likely operate on lands that nobody currently wants, usually in areas with some natural protection, such as steep slopes or rocky soil;
  • Rates of land clearing will not be curbed, as doing that would cost many billions of dollars/year;
  • When government funds prove inadequate, private land conservation may be propped up by the NSW Biodiversity Offsets Scheme where development proponents choose to meet an offset obligation by paying into the Biodiversity Conservation Fund – and this will accelerate the loss of biodiversity;
  • No landscapes in NSW is so valuable as to be off limits for development or clearing, instead developers will pay into an offset fund and clear even critically endangered ecological communities.

Read the Colong Foundation submission.